B4-C: Autism and Physical Fitness: Motivating When Someone Really Doesn’t Want To

People with autism spectrum disorder can struggle with exercise and exercise motivation for several different reasons. These can include sensory difficulties, lack of stamina, and difficulties with motor planning and coordination. Lack of exposure and access to exercise can have long-term physical consequences, such as weight gain and lack of strength and endurance. Social consequences can result as well, as lack of access to exercise can contribute to social isolation and opportunities to interact with peers. By contrast, people that exercise regularly report increased focus and less incidence of anxiety and depression. We will be looking at ways to increase motivation for participating in exercise, with special focus on the importance of establishing a routine, how to work with exercise professionals, sensory accommodations for exercise, and ways to incorporate gaming into exercise. In addition, there will be time for the audience to think of their own exercise routines and how they can share that with family members or students that have autism and increase their inclusion in physical activity.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Attendees will be able identify 3 barriers to physical activity for people with autism.
  2. Attendees with be able to identify 3 benefits of exercise for people with autism.
  3. Attendees will identify effective reinforcers to use when people exercise.
  4. Attendees will come up with a specific plan or idea that they can take home to their own loved ones with autism spectrum disorder.
  5. Attendees will identify at least 3 core tenets of establishing an exercise routine.
  6. Attendees will be able to identify at least 2 ways to “game-ify” exercise.
Family Health & Wellness Mental Health Social Emotional


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